Medical Science And The Bible

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I just love it when science catches up with what God has already pronounced in the Bible!

I’ve blogged previously about psychology, archeology, and astronomy uncovering truths that have already been stated in the Bible, but there are also numerous recent medical discoveries that confirm what Scripture has already been telling us. 

Like the fact that there is a healthy way to relieve stress, and that retaining the stress hormone cortisol in our bodies for too long has serious implications. The apostle Paul tells us to not “be anxious about anything” but to enjoy “the peace of God which transcends all understanding” (Philippians 4:4-7). 

Or that getting the right amount of sleep is so beneficial to long-term health. The Bible tells us that God “grants sleep to those He loves” and we can have the assurance that “when you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet” (Psalm 127:2; Proverbs 3:24).

And then there is this finding that my YouVersion friend Shelly pointed out. “A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing, but a broken spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22 AMP). 

In a WebMD article, medical science confirms this truth of dried-up bones resulting from depression. They wrote, “Even mild depression may significantly increase a woman’s risk for developing osteoporosis. … The level of bone density loss attributed to depression in the study was similar to that previously associated with other well-known osteoporosis risk factors, including smoking cigarettes and getting little or no exercise. … Bone mineral density testing revealed that 17% of the depressed women showed evidence of bone thinning at a particularly vulnerable area of the thigh bone, compared to 2% of women who were not depressed.” 

The Bible is God’s inspired Word to humankind, which means it is never out of date. The principles God has shared with us stand the test of time and are continually verified by the brightest scientific minds. 

So here is my challenge to you: Take God at His Word, and apply the principles He has given you. I think you will find how much better your life will go when you live God’s way.

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Soul Friends

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I had a great time on the Ailbe Podcast with Rusty Rabon. 

Rusty referred to a chapter in my book called ‘Going Farther,’ where I talk about the importance of a shepherd leader having strong, godly friends close by.  

I learned a long time ago that there is a reason that the word “saints” is always in the plural—never in the singular—throughout the New Testament. I also share a couple of notable Old Testament examples of leaders who stumbled when they tried to go alone. 

In Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter I wrote, “You will not only extend your leadership by having other servant-hearted shepherds around you, but you will also have a guard against the aloneness that led to such ugly warts on the biography of otherwise powerful leaders such as David, Elijah, and Peter.” 

I’ll be sharing more clips from this interview soon, so please stay tuned. If you would like to check out the other clips I have already shared from this podcast, please check them out here. Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter is available in print or ebook, and in audiobook through either Audible or Apple. 

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Thursdays With Spurgeon—Your Daily Companion

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Your Daily Companion

The words of the Lord are flawless, like silver purified in a crucible, like gold refined seven times. (Psalm 12:6) 

     In this psalm our text stands in contrast with the evil of the age. The psalmist complains, ‘The godly man ceases! For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men’ (12:1). It was a great grief to him, and he found no consolation except in the words of the Lord. So what if men fail, the Word of the Lord abides! … Live in communion with the Word of God, and even in the absence of Christian friends, you will not lack for company. …  

     Furthermore, the verse stands in fuller contrast still with the words of the ungodly when they rebel against God and oppress His people. They say, ‘With our tongue will we prevail; our lips are our own; who is Lord over us?’ (12:4). … 

     So, dear friend, if at any time your lot is cast where the truths you love so well are despised, get back to the prophets and apostles, and hear through them what God the Lord will speak. The voices of earth are full of falsehood, but the word from heaven is very pure. … Make the Word of God your daily companion…. 

     The Word of the Lord is so instinct with everlasting life and eternal freshness, that it is as vocal and forceful in the heart of the saint today as it was to the ear of Abraham when he heard it in Canaan, or to the mind of Moses in the desert, or to David when he sang it on his harp. … By the Holy Spirit the words of Scripture come to us with a present inspiration—not only has the Book been inspired, it is inspired. This Book is more than paper and ink, it talks with us. Was not that the promise, ‘When you awake, they will speak with you’ (Proverbs 6:22)? We open the Book with this prayer, ‘Speak, Lord; for Your servant hears.’ … May the Holy Spirit at this hour speak to you yet again!

From The Bible Tried And Proved

I cannot say, “Amen!” loudly enough to convey just how much I agree with Spurgeon’s thoughts about the Bible. It is—without a close second—my favorite Book! 

I spent a week blogging about this Book of books: how it helps us pray, and think, and be more creative and insightful than others, and how it helps us process our strong emotions. 

The Bible also helps us fight victoriously. Do you want to fight like Jesus? Then get the Word of God in your heart and mind, and wield it like a sword the way Jesus did! Whether it was satan, or scribes and Pharisees, or even His own doubting disciples, Jesus returned to the Scripture time and time again. 

Just as the Scriptures were to Jesus, let’s make the Word of God our daily companion! 

If you would like some Bible study ideas, check these out. Or take a walk through the Psalms with me. Or begin by reading one chapter in Proverbs, or one section of Psalm 119, every day for a month. I can promise you that the Bible is the best daily companion you will ever know!

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The Proper Value Of Words

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I once knew a businessman who was one of the most silver-tongued talkers I have ever met! He could persuade just about anyone to join him in one of his “can’t miss” business ventures. 

And even after they did miss (which was all of them that I was aware of) he could still convince many of his backers to continue. I never knew him to fulfill what he had promised. 

Eventually, this caught up with him. And so did the law, and he ended up serving a prison term. 

It has always been intriguing to me how much value we put on the words of leaders. It seems as if they can “talk a good game,” we feel a need to exalt them to a higher level. It’s not the one who gets things done, or the one who has the best ideas, or the one who can bring increased efficiency or effectiveness, but the one who can talk the most convincingly. 

I think about in my own profession as a pastor. Churches will select a pastor based on how he sounds from the platform. And yet the sermon is only a tiny fraction of a pastor’s work each week. 

The danger comes when the leader thinks that his highest value to the organization is the words he speaks. Inevitably, then, he will put more effort into what he says than into what he does. He will spend a lot of time figuring out the right words to say, and how to move people’s hearts. 

The apostle Paul told the Christians at Corinth, “My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom” (1 Corinthians 2:4). And he told the Christians at Thessalonica, “For you remember what we taught you by the authority of the Lord Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 4:2), not Paul’s own authority. 

I don’t want people to be impressed with me. I don’t want my authority to come from my vocabulary. I simply want to be known for speaking the Word of God, and then living a life that matches the Word of God. 

As King Solomon said, “A truly wise person uses few words” (Proverbs 17:27). The wisest words are not mine but God’s. Then “your faith [is] not in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:5). 

Words do have their place. But let’s always make sure that that place isn’t in place of God’s Word. 

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Shine In The Darkness

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I’ve noticed that when people want to sound super-spiritual that they like to use King James Version phrases. Sometimes I hear people speaking in normal, everyday English until they begin praying and then I hear, “Thy servant … Thou O Most High … we beseech Thee … Thou knowest Thine children….” 

Statement #6 in our series “Is that in the Bible” also sounds more powerful when people quote it in King James English—Shun the very appearance of evil or sometimes Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord. Are those in the Bible? Yes, they are! 

We don’t use the word “shun” very often today, but in what was probably the first written book of the Bible we read that not only did Job shun evil, but God commended him for shunning evil too. And wise King Solomon advocated for his readers to shun evil (Job 1:1, 8; 2:3; Proverbs 3:7, 14:16). 

Yes, those phrases that I quoted earlier come right from the King James Version of the Bible in 1 Thessalonians 5:22 and 2 Corinthians 6:17, but does this mean that we are to stay away from anything that is “unChristian”? Does it mean that we are to shun sinners? 

There is a story that is told in the synoptic Gospels, but I especially like it in Matthew’s Gospel for one specific reason (which I’ll share with you in a moment). Jesus has just called Matthew to be His disciple, and several of Matthew’s coworkers appear to be having a going-away dinner for him which Jesus attended. 

Then comes the “911” call from the Pharisees (this statement is in Matthew 9:11): “Gasp! Jesus is eating with sinners! He’s not shunning them! Call in the sin police!” The New Living Translation is even more harsh, with the Pharisees asking, “Why does your Teacher eat with such scum?” (v. 13 NLT). 

In Luke’s Gospel we read another story where Jesus eating with “such scum” turned another tax collector’s life around. In Luke 19:1-10, we read of Zaccheus experiencing a complete life change because of His encounter with Jesus. 

Listen to Christ’s words in both Matthew and Luke: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. … I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners. … The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost” (Matthew 9:12-13; Luke 19:10). 

This doesn’t sound like Jesus shunned sinners.

Likewise, Jesus called us to be His salt and light in the world (Matthew 5:13-14). No matter how beneficial the salt of my life is, it doesn’t help anyone if it stays in the saltshaker, shunning the food. No matter how bright the lantern of my life is, it doesn’t help anyone in a closed closet, shunning the darkness. 

Notice what Jesus didn’t do. He didn’t go to Matthew’s house or Zaccheus’ house for a good time, or for a good meal, or for a time of entertainment. He was on mission. So too for Christians: We go into dark places not for our pleasure or entertainment, but because we’re on a rescue mission! 

In both the Old Testament Hebrew and the New Testament Greek, the words for “shun” point at our own hearts. The words mean: You walk away from things that will pull you down, or you hold yourself back from the places and things that will lead you to sin. 

So look at the phrase “Shun the very appearance of evil” in its context: “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject [or shun] every kind of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22). 

Paul is calling us to shun the things that drown out the voice of the Holy Spirit. Listen to two of those verses in another translation: “But test and prove all things until you can recognize what is good; to that hold fast. Abstain from evil” (vv. 21-22 AMP). 

In 2 Corinthians 6 the phrase “Be ye separate” is in the context about being “unequally yoked” with unbelievers. This is what happened to King Solomon when he married women who were idolaters, and they pulled his heart away from God. 

Shun” means to keep away from those things that would pull you down. How do I know if a certain environment or activity or person is pulling me down? I need to check my thoughts, attitudes, and actions. If I find they are becoming un-Christlike, then that is an indication of a place or person that I need to limit my exposure. 

As long as my thoughts, attitudes, and actions remain Christlike, I should keep on seasoning and shining in dark places so that I can draw others to Jesus. “Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people” (Philippians 2:14-15 NLT). 

Don’t shun people that Jesus dearly loves, but don’t put yourself in a position where your devotion to God is compromised either. Listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit giving you the wisdom you need to be both on-mission for Jesus and shining a bright, innocent light! 

If you’ve missed any of the other lessons in this series, you can find the full list by clicking here. 

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The Blessing In Affliction And The Affliction In Blessing

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Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such agony… (Isaiah 38:17).

These are words written by King Hezekiah after God had healed his life-threatening illness. Hezekiah also noted how he would now conduct himself: “I will walk humbly all my years because of this anguish of my soul” (v. 15). 

Hezekiah had been a godly king, leading Judah in removing idol worship from its borders. In his prayer from his sickbed, Hezekiah asked God to remember how he had faithfully lived in such a God-honoring way. God heard this prayer, He answered this prayer, and Hezekiah was totally healed. 

Sadly, after the threat of death was removed, Hezekiah became proud of his accomplishments, and enjoyed showing off his treasures (Isaiah 39:2, 4). When some ambassadors came for a visit because they had heard he was ill, he showed them every precious thing he possessed, but didn’t mention one word of the God who had miraculously and graciously healed him. 

There’s a valuable lesson in this for us to keep in mind today: Affliction can be a good thing IF it drives us to God’s presence. 

And there’s a corollary to this lesson: Blessing can be a bad thing IF it drives us from God’s presence. 

Hezekiah would have done well to remember the words of one of his predecessors. King Solomon prayed, “Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown You and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God” (Proverbs 30:8-9). 

Whether things are going well or not—whether we are suffering affection or enjoying blessing—we must be diligent to remain constantly dependent on God! 

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Clinging To Jesus

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Previously I shared with you that according to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, nearly 1-of-5 adults in the United States age 18 and older battle some form of anxiety disorder. That means there’s a good chance that either you or someone close to you will be in this battle sometime during their life. 

We also learned from David that being anxious or afraid is not a sin. He said, “When [not ‘if’] I am afraid, I put my trust in You” (Psalm 56:3). But we can grieve God’s heart if we don’t train ourselves to turn to Him as our trustworthy First Source of help. 

We also saw in Mark 4:35-39 how the disciples of Jesus were caught in a raging storm, trying everything in their own power to rescue themselves, and yet Jesus was right there with them. He arose and said, “Quiet. Be still,” and “THEN the wind died down and it was completely calm.” From this we learned that only His peace can X-out the noise of the storm and bring us to a place of quiet rest. 

We see another aspect of anxiety here: “Anxiety weighs down the heart” (Proverbs 12:25). That word for “anxiety” means carefulness, but not in the idea of being cautious. It literally means someone who is full of cares. This state leads to a heaviness of heart, as the KJV of that same verse says, “Heaviness in the heart of a man maketh it stoop.”  

I don’t think anyone wakes up one day and says, “I’m going to take all of the cares of the world on my shoulders today.” Instead, we pick up just one thing. “This is just a small thing,” we tell ourselves. Then we wake up the next morning with just that one little thing, and we pick up one more little thing. And then we do it again the next day, and the next day, and the next day. Until before we know it we are bowed down because we are full of cares. This heaviness makes us stoop, makes us unsteady on our feet, and magnifies even the smallest of concerns into a huge crisis. 

We are clinging to our load of cares—our care-fullness—but our loving Heavenly Father desires us to cling to something else. He wants us to cling to Him!

  • Moses told the Israelites: Serve only the Lord your God and fear Him alone. Obey His commands, listen to His voice, and cling to Him. (Deuteronomy 13:4 NLT) 
  • David declared: I cling to You; Your right hand upholds me. (Psalm 63:8) 

We see a beautiful example of Paul clinging to the promises of God during his multiple trials in and around Jerusalem and then during his journey to Rome to stand trial yet again. While he was still in prison in Jerusalem, Jesus appeared to him and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about Me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome” (Acts 23:11). 

Paul knew he was going to arrive in Rome. But during the horrendous storm at sea on his way there, Paul received an added assurance. He told his shipmates—

“But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as He told me.” (Acts 27:22-25) 

Jesus tells all of us to cling to Him and His secure promises (Matthew 11:28-30). When we cling to Him, we no longer cling to the cares of this world. We move from from full-of-cares to care-less. We go from insecurity over our future to the security that only Jesus can give us! 

Paul clung to those promises of Jesus: I will rescue you … You must testify about Me in Rome … I have given you all who sail with you. Likewise, we need to arm ourselves with the promises of God and tenaciously cling to them. I’ve shared just a few promises in the comments below, but feel free to reach out to me if I can help you find a promise in the Bible that you can cling to through your stormy times. 

If you’ve missed any message in our series about X-ing our anxieties, please click here to find the full list. 

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A Teaching Tip For Leaders

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In Proverbs 25–26 Solomon uses the word “like” 18 times. This small word gives leaders a huge teaching lesson. 

Good leaders are constantly conveying to their team the vision that God has given them. We see this throughout the Bible, where past history is connected to the future promise God has given. Unless leaders are able to consistently, and frequently, refocus their people on the vision, the people “cast off restraint” and go their own way (Proverbs 29:18). 

Leaders need to find fresh ways to make their messages stick. All of the Proverbs, but especially these two chapters, give us excellent lessons for this. Solomon makes memorable connections by starting with something that most people have experienced. Things like…

  • a beautiful piece of jewelry 
  • a refreshingly cool drink on a hot day
  • an injured body part 
  • the actions of nature and animals  

Then Solomon connects these observations to a timely piece of wisdom…

  • The right words, delivered at the right time, in the right way are LIKE a beautiful piece of jewelry. 
  • One who delivers timely and helpful words is LIKE a refreshingly cool drink on a hot day. 
  • Trying to move around on an injured foot is LIKE having to rely on someone inconsistent during times of trouble. 
  • Just LIKE honey is good for you in moderation, too much honey—and too much of any good thing—can make you sick. 

This is a great teaching lesson for every leader. We need to continually find new and memorable ways to help our people grasp the vision, mission, and values of the organization. This teaching tip from King Solomon can go a long way in helping our messages stick. 

A mark of a godly leader is one who is always finding new ways to teach the people around him. 

This is part 59 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts in this series by clicking here.

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Our Blessed Hope

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As we wrap up our series looking at our foundational belief statements, I want to combine the last four statements together, not only because they all cover the same theme of end-times events, but also because these statements should give every Christian hope! 

  • “Hope is the power of being cheerful in circumstances which we know to be desperate.” —G.K. Chesterton 
  • “One of the great enemies of hope is forgetting God’s promises.” —John Piper 
  • “Hope is not wishful thinking; it’s well-founded believing!” —Craig T. Owens 

Christians have a fantastic, unshakable, blessed hope on which we can stand not only secure but joyful! 

Foundational truth #13: “The resurrection of those who have fallen asleep in Christ and their translation together with those who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord is the imminent and blessed hope of the church.” 

This blessed hope in the future helps us live with joy today! Knowing that death has been defeated and Jesus will come back to take us home with Him should fuel us to say “no” to the temporary pleasures of sin, and live such godly lives that it turns others’ eyes to Jesus (Titus 2:11-14; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). 

Foundational truth #14: “The second coming of Christ includes the rapture of the saints, which is our blessed hope, followed by the visible return of Christ with His saints to reign on earth for one thousand years.” 

Sometimes you will hear Christians talk about the “rapture” of the Church. Although this word itself isn’t in the Bible, the Greek word harpazo in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 means “catching up.” It also means “to eagerly claim for one’s self,” which reminds me that Jesus is thrilled to bring His Bride home to be with Him forever! After the Church has been caught up to Heaven, a period of tribulation will plague the earth, followed by Christ’s Second Coming and His millennial reign (Zechariah 14:4-5; Revelation 19:11-15; 20:1-10). 

Foundational truth #15: “There will be a final judgment in which the wicked dead will be raised and judged according to their works. Whosoever is not found written in the Book of Life, together with the devil and his angels, the beast and the false prophet, will be consigned to the everlasting punishment in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” 

Christians have no fear of the second (or final) death because our names are written in the Book of Life (Luke 12:4-6; Revelation 20:11-15). Not only is there judgment for the wicked, but there will be rewards for the righteous. 

Foundational truth #16: “In keeping with His promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13). Revelation 21-22 give us a small glimpse of our eternal home. 

In light of these truth, how should Christians live while still on earth? I think there are three ways we should live: 

  1. Live circumspectly
  2. Live on-mission
  3. Live unafraid

(see Ephesians 5:15; Matthew 28:18-20; Proverbs 24:11-12; Jude 1:20-25) 

With this blessed hope of the Second Coming of Jesus and our security in knowing we will remain with Him forever, let’s tell everyone we can how they too can know what it is to live with this hope in their heart. 

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our series exploring our foundational beliefs, you can access the full list by clicking here. 

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True Friends

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Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy (Proverbs 27:6 NLT). 

Proverbs 27 may have more wisdom about our friends than any other chapter in this book. But sprinkled throughout the entire book of Proverbs is outstanding wisdom about our closest relationships. Allow me to share just a few observations with you.

(Click here to see all of the verses I reference below.)

In a previous post where I noted the conjunctions “but” and “and,” I see this—The righteous choose their friends carefully, BUT the way of the wicked leads them astray (12:26). Righteous friends keep me on the right path. 

Friends love me through my worst moments (17:17) because they have committed to stick closer than a brother to me (18:24).

I must be careful not to make friends with a hot-tempered person (22:24), and to be cautious of people who want to be friends with me only for what I can give them (19:4). 

My true friends will wound me in love to help me become the best that God intended me to be (27:5-6, 9, 17), so I must never forsake these friends (27:10). 

False friends will gossip to me and about me, but my true friends will guard my secrets and guard my reputation (16:28; 17:9). 

In order to have true friends, I first have to be a true friend.

In my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter, I noted how true friends will help us go farther and avoid the stumbles that could cut short our leadership influence. 

David was the gold standard for every king of Israel who followed him. Numerous times throughout the history of Israel, we will see a note that a certain king either followed God like David, or turned from God unlike David. Yet there exists a wart on David’s portrait: an adulterous affair with the wife of a man in his inner circle, and then subsequent lies and a murder to cover up the affair. “The thing David had done displeased the Lord” (see 2 Samuel 11). 

But I’d like to turn your attention to when this affair occurred: “In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war…David remained in Jerusalem” (2 Samuel 11:1). He was without his usual comrades. The men who knew David best, who could probably sense if something was amiss, weren’t around to warn him. When David tried to find out the identity of the bathing beauty on the roof next door to his palace, an unnamed attendant tried to remind him, “Isn’t that Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah?” but David dismissed him. 

Elijah was arguably the most forceful and fearless prophet in Israel’s history. Not only did he stand up to the evil kings of Israel, but he spoke out against the kings of surrounding nations, too. In answer to Elijah’s prayer, God brought a drought on the land, and again in answer to Elijah’s prayer, God sent rain. Elijah challenged the 450 prophets of the god Baal and the 400 prophets of the goddess Asherah to a duel to the death, which ended up in a decisive victory for Yahweh. Yet, shortly after this massive victory, Elijah was depressed to the point that he wanted to die. 

What led to Elijah’s depression? Something very similar to David’s slide into adultery: He was alone. Elijah ran away from Queen Jezebel’s death threat, left his servant behind, and proceeded all by himself into the desert. It was when he was without a comrade that he prayed to God, “I’ve had enough. Take my life” (see 2 Kings 17–19). 

And what about Peter? He boldly claimed his loyalty to Jesus, even to the point of wielding a sword at the guards who came to arrest his Master. But when Peter was alone, after the other disciples fled, he denied three times that he knew Jesus (Matthew 26:33, 51, 69–75). 

God designed us to be in relationship with others. His statement to Adam in some of the earliest words of the Bible—“It is not good for you to be alone”—are words for us still today. —from the chapter “Going Farther” 

We need true, God-fearing friends close to us. Ask God to bring those friends around you, and ask the Holy Spirit to make you into that kind of friend for those He does bring around you. 

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